It didn’t feel like negative 2 degrees. Maybe, I was too giddy about the adventure ahead to notice. It was the second day on a holiday vacation in Jackson Hole, Wyoming with my extended family. My parents had offered to ski at the resort with our 8-year old boys while my husband, Phil, and I took a day in the Teton backcountry.
Matt, my brother-in law from Oregon, joined us and we met up with Warren, an old friend from Vermont who had offered to guide us on a run down the classic Glory Bowl off Teton Pass. It was well after 9 am – after strapping avalanche beacons to chests, and skis and snowboards to packs – then we began to hike.
At over 9,000 feet, we paused frequently to gasp and take in breathtaking surroundings, from birdsong in nearby pines to sweeping vistas of basin and range. After an hour, we stood atop a short and steep cirque named Little Tuckerman’s, namesake to New Hampshire’s iconic ravine. After an elation-fueled photo session, we got to the business of getting down. Warren assessed the conditions and recommended that we crisscross the bowl and navigate our way through a powder-laden forest.
One at a time, we tracked across snow that changed in an instant from wind-swept powder to wind-scoured crud. Although exhilarated at the grandness of it all, I was slightly trembling from the exposure, and found myself making hockey-stop, tele-turns down the ridge. My companions made graceful arcs on their snowboards and once we entered the woods, joyful hoots ricocheted off the trees. Camaraderie common to the backcountry was all there in the appreciation of another’s riding style or the witness of an impressive “pillow” launch.
Finding ourselves where we started on the highway was bittersweet. We would return to our families and enjoy four more sunny days of snow time on resort corduroy with our kids and relatives. However, each lookout from the chairlift beckoned awesome possibilities from towering spines of the Teton Range.